English 9 Honors
12 December 2011
The Nature of Wang Lung
All human beings show emotion, as emotions are a tell-tale sign of who somebody is, what they are to others, and how they react to different situations. When we examine the character Wang Lung from the book The Good Earth, we see an example of the purest form of the human nature working under difficult situations. Through this book, Wang Lung symbolizes “human nature,” as he shows a dynamic variety of different human attributes from the beginning to the end, such as simplicity, arrogance, and regret. Wang Lung is described as not a boring, static character, but rather a character who struggles with his own inner demons: “…he might appear to be a one-dimensional figure, he actually runs a gamut of human emotions” (Doyle 78). Throughout Wang Lung’s hard life, his reactions to the forces around him are a carbon-copy of what human nature is always susceptible to undertaking.
At the beginning of the book, Wang Lung starts his life out through naivety and tameness; he is like a seed that is yet to reach maturity by sprouting; even as he is going to marry his wife, the gateman takes note of his gullibility and takes advantage over it: “Then seeing that Wang Lung was too innocent he said, ‘A little silver is a good key’” (Buck 14). Men take advantage of the innocent, who do not know much about how the world works. Another example is that although it was custom to treat wives as property, Wang Lung feels pleasure when he realizes O-lan might like him. Buck writes his feelings: “In himself there was this new exultation which he was ashamed to make articulate even to his own heart, ‘This woman of mine likes me well enough!’” (27). Even though Ancient China’s society treats women as inferior, Wang Lung, not knowing to the fullest how society functions, takes great joy in knowing that O-lan likes him “well enough.” This shows human nature as a plant that has yet to grow. All human nature,
Cited: Buck, Paul. The Good Earth. New York: Washington Square Press Publication, 1931 Doyle, Paul A. Pearl Buck. (1965) Rpt. In Contemporary Literary Criticism. Ed. Dedria Byonski. Vol. 11. Detroit: Gale, 1979. 78.